I just completed the second leg of a six-city speaking/workshop tour for a law firm. The associate attorneys and partners in front of whom I stood are smart and self-sufficient, with a healthy dose of logic, reasoning and risk aversion streaming through their “DNA.” And, they are busy – with full professional and personal lives.
Much like you, I bet.
Also like them, you have experience with money. Thus, you have the ability to manage and make decisions about your money on your own. You (and they) don’t need to hire a financial professional to help you. In theory…
I say in theory because, contrary to what some believe, managing your money isn’t simply about numbers, information and technical knowledge. If it were, you could get by with basic math and a little help from Google. After all, the latter has a ton of information about:
- Financial planning
- Taxes (and tax planning)
- Estate planning
- Debt management
Google any of these terms and you’ll likely become overwhelmed by the amount of results that get returned. As an example, “financial planning” returns approximately 1,270,000,000 results! Some of it is true and accurate – especially with regards to laws and regulations. Others of it is true as based on personal experience – but not necessarily formal financial training and work experience.
For me, the question isn’t whether you can manage your own money. Of course you can.
The question is how well can you do it. Especially when you factor in what really contributes to your financial success: self-knowledge and behavior.
When you do your review, you might discover…
- “Oh wait, I haven’t updated my beneficiaries on my 401k or insurance policies (raised hand).” Or,
- “Wow, I really need to get a handle on my cash-flow.” Or,
- “Darn, my expenses are waaay out of whack!” Or,
- “Yeah, the stock market is doing well, but my investment allocation has shifted from my target allocation and now I’m over-weighted and under-weighted in certain asset classes/sectors.” Or,
- “Yay, I’m on target with my savings goals…woot, woot!”
Sure, you may have a sense of these things without doing a review. But isn’t it better to know where you really stand rather than to surmise your status?
Because one thing I know for sure is that the quality of your choices and decisions moving forward will be better when they are backed by evidence and not assumptions.
A mid-year review gives you evidence. And of course, it is something you can do on your own.
While you don’t need to hire a professional, I believe you’d benefit from hiring one to do a review with you or at least take a look at your results. And, I don’t say this in a self-serving way. In part because financial professionals come in many stripes and my work providing behavioral-based financial coaching is not a fit for everyone. Plus, the “holes” you discover from doing your financial review may expose the need for a skill set I don’t posses or of a service I don’t provide, e.g., CPA or estate planning attorney or an advisor that sells securities and insurance, to name a few.
The purpose of a financial professional
Here are few reasons I’m an advocate of working with a financial professional – either in an on-going capacity or for periodic check-ins – like reviews:
- They can offer an outside perspective as you sort out some of life’s perplexities and the role of money in said.
- They have a knowledge base you don’t and/or access to a professional network that you don’t. (FYI: Even the best financial professional can’t do all of the above-listed examples that represent different areas of your financial life.)
- They bring to the table not only their technical knowledge, but also insight gleaned from their work with other clients.
- They possess an emotional distance you don’t have (it’s your money and life!), which comes in handy when you’re working to bridge the gap between your current financial reality and the financial vision you’re working to create.
- They can keep you focused when you become distracted by the demands of life and work vis a vis crunched time and expanded responsibilities.
These are just some of the tremendous benefits you get from working with a financial professional. These are also examples of what you can expect from a financial professional.
What only you can do
Regardless of how awesome the financial professional with whom you work is, there is some “work” that is only yours to do. Such as…
- Imagining your future
- Practicing habits
- Determining your goals and what’s important to you
- Taking action and prioritizing what gets your attention, money, resources, etc.
- Managing self-talk
- Managing your behavior
There are all sorts of answers and clues embedded in your mid-year financial review. From the nitty-gritty technical (or mechanical) details of managing your money to the more nuanced, emotional aspects – like whether you’re giving yourself permission to imagine beyond your current reality or whether you’re making choices that best support you.
And, if you’re directing your expectations regarding the health and condition of your finances toward the appropriate people – including yourself, your family, your friends, your job or your business, or your financial professionals – in the right way, at the right time.
You see, one of the hidden benefits of doing a mid-year review is the chance it gives you to explore what – if anything – you’re expecting others to do that, truly, can only be done by you.
Yes, you can automate certain aspects of managing your money; you can outsource some of the key roles and responsibilities; you can seek guidance and support from family, friends and professionals. But never, ever should you abdicate your role as the financial leader of your life.
Leaders may not always like the answers they get to the question, “How am I doing?” But they ask it anyway trusting the answers will ultimately be for the better.
So in case you haven’t caught on by now (or maybe you’re just tuning in to this series), the mid-year review I’ve been harping on isn’t just about your money. It’s about proactively managing your life!
And you taking control of your choices by using the data, insight and lessons learned from the first six-months of the year to (re)direct the next six-months ahead.
As I hope I’ve laid out, your review isn’t just an exercise in collecting financial information. It’s an opportunity to amplify your self-knowledge so that you can make better choices and do more with your money.
You do wish you could do more with your money, right?!